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Content Management Brand Strategy Open Mic

The unseen cost: How brands are mismanaging millions in content

By Anastasia Leng, Founder & CEO



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April 8, 2024 | 4 min read

Despite ongoing efforts to defend marketing's impact, a significant portion of advertising budgets is still being wasted due to inefficient deployment and unseen content, says Anastasia Leng (founder and CEO, CreativeX).

Cartoon showing social media reactions falling into a giant trash pile

Over a century ago, John Wanamaker threw down the gauntlet with a quip that’s still echoed in boardrooms today: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.” This has been a rallying cry for CFOs skeptical of marketing’s value and pundits ready to write advertising's obituary. Yet, despite a continuous and robust defense raised by marketers showcasing their impact, Wanamaker’s jest still remains uncomfortably common today.

Recent findings by CreativeX illustrate a startling reality: the average Fortune 500 brand is making $25m disappear annually on creative content that never reaches its audience. This inefficiency stems from a production system more focused on quantity than effective deployment. It’s like a grand magic show where half the tricks are performed backstage—impressive, but unseen.

The great illusion of asset utilization

CreativeX research shows that 52% of the core marketing assets are never activated. This sleight of hand sets the industry on a path to evaporate $100bn yearly on content that misses its cue to dazzle the audience. This is a substantial imbalance between what marketers are producing and what the audience sees. It's like hosting a blockbuster movie premiere in the middle of a desert: epic effort, zero audience.

A landfill of creative disappearing acts

Imagine a landfill, but instead of ordinary waste, it’s filled with unseen and unused ads. This content graveyard expands and expands as marketers rush to keep the audience’s fleeting attention, turning the content production treadmill up to a sprint.

That sprint turns into a run as generative AI joins the game, promising to multiply the content at the wave of a wand, further accelerating asset creation without addressing the root problem of visibility and reuse across markets, brands, and agencies. We’re just conjuring more rabbits to lose in our hats.

The spell of visibility

Yet, in a twist fit for a magic show finale, AI emerges not as the villain but the unexpected savior. Historical advancements like the x-ray and the microscope have armed us with the power to see in dark corners, propping open and accelerating our ability to understand and address previously thought to be impossible problems. AI offers this same transformative potential in advertising, shining a light on the entire content journey, from usage to impact.

CreativeX's newest data application, Creative Lifecycle, is like the magic mirror on the wall, revealing the true fate of our creative endeavors across the globe. Through that global view of all our content at every stage of the process, we can gain insights into content usage, adaptation, and performance, bridging the data gap between global and local, between agencies and in-house teams.

Tapping into AI for a peek behind the curtain doesn’t require a complete marketing overhaul—just a willingness to pull the rabbit out of the hat and reveal efficiencies previously hidden in the magician’s sleeve.

Armed with this newfound clarity, brands can finally see which half of their budget is vanishing into thin air. The stage is set for those ready to embrace these insights, leaving others to continue paying for the world’s most expensive invisible acts.

So, as we rethink our marketing magic, let’s aim for more than mere illusions. After all, in the art of advertising, visibility isn’t just part of the act—it’s the whole show.

Content Management Brand Strategy Open Mic

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